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Garrett ATX PI

Garrett ATX Pulse

January 2014

I heard that a new Garrett PI detector was coming out so I headed straight for the website to check it out.  What I seen I was not expecting…wow it looked military and very well made.
I was on the e-mail to Nigel to ask if I could test it,  This is something I never do but having owned three Garrett Infiniums, Whites TDI, TDI Slimline, Surfmaster, Goldscan and GPX 5000 since around 2005 and felt I had the experience and I wanted to see how it would handle the iron!  I do not get over technical about metal detectors as I have found this to be of no use to me in my twenty five year detecting career.  I deal with the facts and can it do what is advertised ? which is either YES or NO I don’t care for graphs and charts or what if’s.
I first started looking at pulse induction as I said above around eight years ago.  I had some cracking sites but the detectors I was using year in and year out just where not getting through the mineralisation.  I tried every combination I could but could not get the edge I was looking for over my detecting mates.  I am always looking for the upper hand or to be ahead of the game as detecting is getting more popular so if I can get extra depth over the next guy that will do me!

I was in search of something and did not know what but while browsing through some Garrett brochures I noticed the Infinium Land and Sea (LS).  Regton never stocked them so me being me imported one from the USA as I had to try it.  I went out my first day with it with my pals Rab and Bobby to an old medieval site.  I remember digging nail after nail after nail and getting a lot of stick from my mates but at the end of the day I got a cut half of William I,  I was over the moon as my hunch was correct I could find the stuff with a PI.  Over the next month or two I compared signals with my mates who had Multi Frequency detectors with 14” coils on them.  On one eye opening occasion I tested a signal with Rab who could not hear the target,  I dug it out and it was a Scottish copper turner….yes I was over the moon I was now digging less iron and now getting better depth than my mates.  I continued to use the LS on land and with great success and in the surf on my holidays to the USA.  I used a number of Pulses since then and I know the merits of certain PI’s on land.

Pulse detectors on Mineralised soil will penetrate deeper than a VLF or Multi Frequency detector that I have proven on hundreds of occasions BUT on soil that is not mineralised the depth advantage gets a lot less if any
Now you know my history on why I was very keen to try out the new pulse.  I stayed away from the US forums as I like to judge a detector on my own land sites here in the UK which are a far cry from parks in America.  This is in no way an insult to the guys in the US as I respect a lot of these guys knowledge on pulse detectors but it’s a different ball game over here looking for cut half’s and quarters on iron laden sites.

I received the ATX and as soon as I got it I opened it and to say it’s different is an understatement, it comes in a fancy wee holdall with all the bits inside.  I immediately lifted it out and my it felt bloody heavy and I did say about being well made.  I have never felt a detector this sturdy and when I set it for my size it was perfectly balanced and I never felt it heavy but how would I be after eight hours on a mucky field.

I was desperate to test the discrimination function and iron check so cleared the kitchen work top as this is my usual air test bench.  I had a quick scan of the manual which is very easy to understand when I came up against a function I needed I had a read on that section in the manual and honestly I found the settings very easy to understand.  I also like the interface everything is in reach of your thumb and you don’t lose grip when you go to use any of the buttons.
My BIG question was will the discrimination and iron check feature work?  Will it cut out iron and still get hammered coins I had lots of doubts but I had good reason to as pulse induction detectors detect all metals and they don’t discriminate BUT the high end ones do like the GPX 5000 and this is why I use one. In my experience all the other Pulse’s I have used like the Whites TDI, Infinium can be tweaked to eliminate some iron by using the pulse delay in combination with the ground control by this is a tedious process if your site has a lot of iron on it.

I set Rambo up and started to set it up for testing indoors, simply reduce the gain and frequency scan it and it will be very stable.

Build Quality Is of top quality and everything is easily adjusted.  My concern with the coil constantly needing pushed back down was confirmed but I just started to do it automatically after a while.  The top stem keeps going back up the shaft if any weight is applied even when fully tightened but being waterproof far makes up for any wee niggles if any I had.

Controls All the controls are very easily found with your thumb.
Weight when lifted in the non-detecting position is heavy but it seems to balance out well and I never felt any fatigue when detecting all day with it but you must get the stem length correct.  You must set it so that you don’t have it too long or it will put strain on your shoulder and back.

Sensitivity : Directly up or down, I had mine set at 10 on my mineralised sites and it was rock solid stable.  If you increase it and it starts to give phantom signals you just reduce it.

Ground Balance : SHIFT= Press and hold the Ground Balance button until it bleeps twice then start pumping the coil 6” to 1” from the ground until the Threshold sound levels out then release.   This feature is very easy to get used to and important as an improperly balanced detector will lose depth if set to positive or if set to negative give more depth but give a noisier operation.

EMF Scan: You can call it what you want but it is very effective at selecting a quite operating channel.  I can work under power lines and next to (Near) other pulses without getting my ears blew off.  Easy to access to just press the Frequency scan once while holding the detector waste height.

Ground Tracking has four different levels so how do you choose? An important thing I learned from my time using the Whites MXT is that when you go over a target whether it be ferrous or nonferrous the detector the detector tracks the target and this changes the ground balance and then once it passes the target it tracks the ground and changes back.  If you are on a site with a lot of targets it would be best to ground balance the “lock it” so it is not constantly hunting for the ground balance so with the ATX just ground balance and leave it to (1)

Pinpoint : Bang on accurate in the centre of the coil.

Discrimination Feature I would probably never use as on land it was immediately evident that I was losing depth and sensitivity to cut half’s. The hammered where getting cut out before the iron on all occasions so unless I needed it for my beach detecting I would leave it at (1) light on.

Iron Check : This is where I was pinning all my hopes! Will it work or is it a gimmick? Well I was surprised by this wee feature and in my air test worked perfectly.  What the feature does is if you get a target for example a low conductor like hammered Edward penny it will give a “high followed by low tone” just like the Infinium, then you press and hold the Iron Check button and hold until it bleeps twice then rescan your target while holding the button down, If the tone stays  high/low or changes to a low/high or you get no sound then you dig BUT if it’s got a buzz in with it then it’s iron.
If you went over a target and it gave a “low tone followed by a high tone” that would indicate a high conductor like a thick silver (Florin) type target again press the Iron check button and hold while rescanning your target, If it stays a low/high or changes to a high low or you get no sound then you dig but if you get a buzz in with it then leave it as its iron.  Would this work in the soil now that’s the next part.
I took the ATX to a couple of my sites that are and have been worked hard by others and myself over the last 10 years so ideal testing sites for a PI…why?  Well if I am getting lots of small stuff it confirms that the Multi’s and Single frequency detectors could not see them due to the mineralisation but the PI is doing its job.

On Field Use
1: Turn On
2. Set the Threshold to
3: Put Sensitivity to 5 just to keep the detector stable while air and ground balancing.
4: Hold the detector waist height and press the Frequency Scan button once.  Keep the detector still and let it go through the motions until finished.
5:  Put the coil to the ground and find a clear area free from iron (stable threshold while scanning the soil)
6: Put the coil on the ground press the Shift button and while it’s still active (read light on) press and hold the Frequency Scan/Ground Balance button while raising and lowering the coil from 6” to 1” continually until the threshold levels out and release the button.  You have completed the ground balance
7. Now you have set the detector you need to set the gain/sensitivity and to do this go over your clean area sweeping the coil from side to side while upping the Sensitivity one notch at a time.  Your aim is to increase it as high as you can while maintaining a VERY stable threshold.  If you run it high you WILL get false signals from the soil and you will not be able to distinguish a real signal from a false signal.  We call them false but they are real only you are getting it from the soil and not a piece of metal.  The stable operation is crucial as you need to listen for very faint signals.
At the time of writing I have fifteen hours use of the ATX.  I have the advantage of having used the Garrett Infinium LS which is Identical “Target” sounds wise to the ATX.  On a recent few hours on one of my sites I test all my detectors on a was really tuned in to the detector and had was getting some very good High/Low signals which gave no iron grunt while iron checking them so unearthing the target and getting iron of various sizes was quite disheartening.  This theme carried on throughout the day and I went home with one Edward I penny, half of a Denarius, 23 non ferrous targets and 19 iron targets.  I am no stranger to pulse detectors on land and know they like iron but I was determined to re test the iron I had dug to see if I could educate my hearing on the sharpness or non sharpness of the signal.

Once home I  tested the iron targets I had found and could hear a very very slight buzzing while iron checking them, I had heard this sound before digging them but assumed it was a good target sound (non ferrous)?  Honestly this is so faint my microphone for my video camera can’t pick it up while inside my ear phones.  I wish Garrett would amplify the output for headphones as they are extremely quiet.  I requested a headphone adapter from Nigel but it broke after a day’s use.  The big positive is that most of the nineteen bits of iron gave this very faint “zzzz” sound what you need to do is train your hearing to recognise it.  I will certainly be putting it to the test over the festive holidays.
Well I had two weeks off work and used the ATX exclusively and with some success…”yes thought so”   I hear you thinking another field test that sits on the fence !!  well anyone that knows me knows that’s not my style.  My two main hopes for the ATX was that it was deeper than a Top VLV or Multi Frequency detector on mineralized soil and that the iron check feature would be effective and here are my findings.

Depth on my site where I test any new detector I own or coil has pylons on it and is detected to death by two other Top PI users and know how hard this site needs to be worked.  Initially I was getting concerned about the depth as I wasn’t getting any medium or large size targets at any depths I would expect from a pulse on land.  This was to come but during my holidays I got a target on my test field and it signalled high/low and when I probed it in the hole it was a copper ring type item from around 12”.  This honestly gave me a big smile as it gave me a big leap of confidence in the ATX as I said this site is notoriously mineralised.
Let me explain my in the field experience of pulse induction detectors since 2005 as you see I highlighted “In the field experience” week in and out for years.  I do not care to baffle people with far to technical field tests.  You can write as much mumbo jumbo as you like but the detector has got to perform to the HYPE or INSINUATION that it can do a certain thing which then triggers the visions in your head of new treasure jumping out of your best done to death field !!

What sold the ATX to me was that it had an iron check!! I never got excited about this or posted any questions on any forums regarding this as I would need to test it on my sites.  This feature would make or break the ATX for me so I tested it to death.  The best way to explain in my experience is with a discriminating pulse when you start to use it you will dig about 75% iron until you start to train your ear to the sounds and this takes time not days but lots and lots of patience and use.  The ATX was no different to me I was digging 75% iron and that was because I had to learn what the ATX was telling me its certainly like learning a language.  After around 32 + hours use I had reduced this to 50% and this is what I would expect even from the Top PI which I currently have used for over a year.  The iron check feature once engaged you will start to learn what targets slip through the net and make you dig ..only to be iron.  I have no doubt in my mind if I owned this detector for as long as my current discriminating PI the ATX would not be far off its ability to discriminate.
If you are looking to GENUINLY make your dead mineralised field come alive with small low conducting targets I will guarantee you that the ATX has this ability.

Part two coming soon ….THE BEACH which I know it’s wee brother the Infinium excelled in so I expect good things.

Part II Beach

A bit of time has passed since my land appraisal of the new Garrett ATX was printed in this magazine

This is due to me running weekly metal detecting digs and working full time. I knew I had a fortnight’s holiday coming up on a Spanish island. I have a very forgiving metal detecting widow who has had to suffer my metal detecting addiction for over 20 years.

I landed in spain and headed to the hotel and within an two hours I was on the beach, yes with the ATX ! I had downloaded the tide times and it was low tide. I managed only a couple of hours and found mostly pull tabs and coins. I had set it up the same as I would on land and it operated perfectly. This beach is man made with imported sand with underlying rocks but the ATX coped with no problems at all with these or electro magnetic interference in this or any area I tried on my holiday. I met a local guy who was detecting and ignorantly I could not understand a word he said to me but he looked excited about seeing me using the Garrett.

My aim of this holiday like most was to relax and do some Scuba diving and mostly to detect in the surf to chest height at any chance I could. We took a boat trip to my next beach but this was more of a reccy and sightseeing day but I returned the following day with the ATX. The beach is a small bay and busy but off I went leaving my wife on the beach. I had to increase the Discrimination to 4 to stabilize the detector which I expected but this allowed me to up the sensitivity to 8. The detector was super stable even though I was surrounded by shops and bars all offering Wifi etc but the ATX purred away with the big stock coil on.

The ATX sounds are like the Infinium which I loved in the surf and felt at ease with the detector instantly. The beach was a natural one this time with a nice layer of stones a scoop down, I started off with tab after tab but you have to dig these as they sound just like a ring would High/Low and most coins where Low/High. I was half an hour into detecting when I got a very quiet signal which I honestly thought was another tab but after two or three scoops I looked amongst the stones and seen the wedding band shape…Yes my first gold ring with the ATX and in Spain!! I worked away for another hour but mostly coins and tabs, I stopped for some water and a sandwich then back in with a bit more optimism and after an hour I had most of the same but I got a good loud High/Low signal and you guessed it another gold wedding band with a white gold interior band. I was over the moon with the detector and my days detecting but the scoop that I was using was not living up to the job due to the hard layer of stones and rocks below the sand which was making my digging very hard going as the sand was falling out the front of the scoop.

The ATX is not the lightest thing you can put in a suitcase but it I managed to fit this a sand scoop and all my clothes in the suitcase 15 Kilo and my 5 Kilo hand luggage. Once in Spain I visited a hardware store and bought a long brush handle for 3 euro and fitted it with ease.

Before you go detecting you must remember to use vasaline on the battery and headphone seals to keep any water out. I would also recommend rinsing the detector with fresh water at the beaches to get the salt water off it as this rots anything. I did notice that the cam locks where stiff on holiday so ensure you give them an extra long rinse. I also used toilet tissues to clean the old Vaseline from the headphone and battery sections and make sure there is no sand in these parts.

Over my two weeks I managed only two gold rings tons of pull tabs and £50 odd euro but I do put a lot of blame on my scoop which stopped me from getting to the places I wanted on the beach and to dig the depth I wanted to dig but I WILL return with a mighty scoop that wil not let me down.

If you are looking for a discriminating and ground balancing pulse induction detector that can perform on land as good as anything on the market but will also do what other top of the range Pulses can’t do, operate with excellent sensitivity to thin gold rings totally submerged in water for hours on end and not be affected by magnetic stones or outside EMF then the Garrett ATX is the only pulse detector currently on the market that can do both of these things. A good accessory would be the small Mono coil which would be my preference for the water as it was a killer on the Infinium LS. The ATX will perform as good on UK beaches as it does on Spanish ones.

I hope you found my reports helpful and not over technical. I pride myself on putting on paper exactly how I found the detector to perform. If you are ever up in Scotland look me up or find me on Facebook.